How to Have a Hysterectomy; 101

One of the possible titles for my self-published book was “How to Have a Hysterectomy: 101”. Albeit, slightly tongue and cheek, I quickly realized that each person’s health journey is a unique one, and there is no one way to do things. However, when we are swimming in the sea of uncertainty, it can be nice to offer some specific, experienced advice. As you will soon see, some of my best work comes in lists of ten. 

1.) Trust Your Gut: Whether having a hysterectomy or navigating other health challenges, trying to find that balance of solid intuition and open-mindedness should be your first tool. Get multiple opinions, and invite trusted others into your decision making process. At the end of the day, you are the expert on your own boundaries, expectations and limitations and that must inform your plan of action and/or purposeful waiting.

2.) Medicine: Invest serious time in selecting your medical team. This is probably the scientific equivalent of the axiom “measure twice, cut once”. I explored multiple medical options, support networks, physical therapies and more before selecting my course of action. Not every moment includes that luxury of time, but if possible, pursue it.

3.) Faith: This book is not written exclusively for faith believing individuals, though often expressed from a Judeo-Christian perspective. Hopefully that doesn’t dissuade anyone in their own faith journey, but if you find yourself as an atheist or agnostic, I would still encourage you to consider this perspective, perhaps in terms of your own community or love itself. At the very least, whether you believe in a Higher Power or not, this journey will be immeasurably more difficult if you do not place faith in others, yourself and the hope of a personal solution to difficult challenges.

4.) Community: I chose to pursue my hospital stay and subsequent recovery in relative isolation, which turned out to be the perfect environment for my healing. However, unless I was planning on actually performing my own “Hysterectomy 101”, I had to acknowledge my limitations, and invite trusted others into the process. I chose to pursue community via online resources as with my platform, registry and online dialogue. I explored websites and social media to engage with others in their experiences and challenges. I utilized a blog, art therapy and other creative means to express my emotions. I consulted doctors, therapists and other medical professionals to bolster my own research. And I relied on close friends prior, during and after the recovery, for accountability and support. 

5.) Emotions: I personally found the emotional and spiritual components of my healing to be far more challenging than the physical aspects. I am an artist by profession, so this internal conversation came relatively naturally. My father is a psychologist and I don’t suffer from the outdated stigmatism ascribed to the healing practices of psychotherapy. But I wouldn’t expect the average individual to have those proclivities, or necessarily the time to fully unpack them. The most I can say is don’t ignore the potential complexities of whatever transition you are exploring. The human body is much more than its physical components, and for a full comprehensive healing, you need to acknowledge yourself as a full, comprehensive human.

6.) Logistics: While impossible to predict the needs of any one individual, please think through every practical aspect of your recovery and plan accordingly. Later in the book you can reference my various lists, and I find this type of preparation primarily useful in giving ourselves a sense of control in uncontrollable circumstances. If pressed, I would say the top 5 items that aided my recovery were medication, food delivery, a support pillow, recovery activities and digital resources. The needs of each individual are different, but with enough research and self-awareness you can set yourself up to win, even with setbacks and unpredictable circumstances.

7.) The Registry: This might seem ludicrous, but this was one of the best decisions I employed for my personal healing. I am single, unmarried, self-employed and without children. I have never personally experienced my own bridal shower or baby shower and don’t even expect to enjoy a retirement party in the future. I am technologically savvy, so it was very easy to set up a website and registry for my community to help out. I have a chronic illness so meal trains, home visits and other traditional means of support were less than ideal. I also have the great privilege of being a part of many different communities, and recognized that as much as I needed help, there were also individuals who were desperate to provide it. This was one of the easiest ways to be openly transparent about my needs, while still keeping friends, family and students at a healthy, organized distance.

8.) The Expert: It quickly became apparent that one of the main aces in my hand was my resident best friend and nurse. Her medical expertise and “JW expertise” was invaluable during this process, but not everyone has that luxury. As I mentioned, my father is a psychologist. My mother is an expert accountant, planner and organizer. My friends are artists and entertainers, and I’m a teacher. All of that to say, play to your strengths, and that includes your community. Whatever you’ve got, put it to good use. Are you married to an individual who cooks? Start that meal prep. Young kids in the family? Let’s rope them into household chores and requested snuggles. Are your friends engineers? That application is less clear to me…but I’m sure there is a way to put their skills to good use. Whether they design a means of extricating your from your recovery bed, or provide hand made Lego Sets for entertaining assembly, use every asset at your disposal!

9.) Communication: This is a huge component of recovery and ongoing personal success. Apparently one of my gifts is creative communication but I never would have thought that would have a medical application. Whether I was communicating my insecurities to my surgeon or gently arguing with my parents about a plan of action, I was always, imperfectly communicating. The conversations that we have with our Divine Power, our community and ourselves can make or break our relative success. Upon entering the hospital I had to convince the staff to allow my personal belongings. I reminded the surgeon that I had pre-existing body image issues and would prefer a horizontal incision. I communicated with nurses during uncomfortable physical moments and asked a ton of potentially irritating questions. This is your moment. Speak up for yourself with kindness and power.

10.) The One With the Hysterectomy: I suppose I should finish with a shameless plug for the very book you are reading. I hope it can be useful to anyone during the complicated pursuit of their own mental, emotional, spiritual and physical health. While I am not a licensed therapist, I would love to hear some of your stories via social media and other online resources! As stated in the book, I own a small, educational arts business called Music4Me Studios and would relish any conversations or relationships born out of this book! Check us out online and share your own recovery stories! You’ve taken the first step in harnessing your own powers of healing and taking proactive steps to pursue your best life! Let’s get to it! 

by [email protected]

JW has always been impressed with how much courage and confidence it takes to be your authentic artistic self! I have a Masters in Music and decades of professional performance experience. Starting with the Broadway National Tour of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" which I enjoyed for nearly a decade, I'm also a professional voice over artist for Playstation, EECInternational and Achieve the Core, among others. I'm a collegiate professor who specializes in helping clients find their own artistic voice, and connect with a community of other artists to find the hero within! I've recently made my first self-published book available on Amazon entitled "The One With the Hysterectomy" and I hope you'll check it out!


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